Spring has finally sprung here in North Carolina! My children couldn’t be more thrilled that they are able to go outside at least once daily. And this Mama is thrilled they can go outside too. 😉
But I must admit, there is one item I never look forward to at the changing of seasons: The Great Clothing Swap.
In years past, it seems to have lasted for months. Out-of-season clothes stashed in nooks and crannies around the house. It’s enough to drive me crazy. I just want to take 2-3 days and knock it all out in one shot.
We have three children that are fairly close in age, so I’ve developed a system that works pretty well for us. So like any other how-to post: read everything, use what you can, and leave the rest.
Mama’s Method for Storing Children’s Clothes
To store my children’s clothes, I use the XL size Ziploc bags. The large size are too small and the XXL are definitely too big for my family’s use. We tried using the equivalent size in the Hefty Brand, and while I enjoy the zippered closure, it was poor quality. I could only unzip them 2 or 3 times before the zipper broke. And then the bag was useless.
I know that lots of moms use totes to store clothes. But these also didn’t work for me simply because when stacked, the lids began to bow. And when the lids bowed, it allowed air entry. Air entry = bug entry. I don’t do bugs of any type. Ever.
In the baby stages, my clothes are sorted by age: 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months and 9-12 months. I see no reason to sort by season since they fly through clothes so quickly. So on the top right corner of my Ziploc bag I write in a black Sharpie: GIRL 0-3 months or BOY 9-12 months.
There are many other items to store from the baby days and I have them separated in the following bags:
- Baby Blankets/Towels/Washcloths
- All feeding supplies (bottles, cups, pump, etc)
- Cloth Diapers
- Bag of Baby Toys
- Shoes: Sizes 2-5 then Sizes 5-8 and so on
Label Bags Carefully
If there are special/certain items in the bag, I make sure I note that under the size. For example, I document on the bag that is the one in which I put all of the baby socks. Or if I ran out of space and there are a few 6 month outfits in the top of the 9-12 month bag. Make sure you document what is in your bags. I can absolutely promise you that you won’t remember. The better your labels, the happier you’ll be.
Once clothes start at the 2T range, I begin to sort by season. So I’ll write on my bag: BOY 4T – Mostly Winter or GIRL 3T Summer.
For older children, I sort these items separately:
- Coats – 1 bag of Girl Coats and 1 bag of Boy Coats (2T-5T stored in same bag)
- Shoes – Boy Sizes 5-8 then 8-12 and Girls Sizes 5-8 then 8-12
For items like belts and special dresses/sweaters I make sure I label those items on the outside of the bag I’ve put them in. I want to easily see at a glance where those types of things are located.
Place Them in Your Storage Area
Once all of these items are bagged, we store them in our attic. We are very blessed to have a walk-up attic with ample storage space. The bags are arranged by gender and then by size.
My youngest daughter is in 18-month clothes, so there is a hole in my stored girl clothes between 12-months and 2T. When she has outgrown this size, I’ll purge what is not needed, bag what we want to keep, and then return them to their ”home” in the attic in case they are needed again.
Is All of This Work Really Worth It?
After scanning this method, you might be wondering: Why would you take so much time to keep so many clothes? Doesn’t it just create clutter? I’m so glad you asked.
We have been blessed with more hand-me-downs than I can count. And we are so blessed that others have freely given their clothes that they no longer need. We’re very grateful. I take the time to organize and take good care of them so we can use them if/when we have more children. By being good stewards of the items we have, I can stay at home with my children every day. I’m not saying this is the way it should work for every family…but this is definitely what works for our family!
Have a great storage method you’d like to share? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!
This is a great idea! I use totes, and I am so tired of them! Like you, I also dread the changing of the seasons, with 5 kids my spare bedroom looks like a clothing tornado came through!
I am thinking this would also be great if you decided you know longer needed a certain category, they would already be bagged up to take to Goodwill, or if you know someone who just had a baby girl, run and get your baby girl bags, how easy is that? Love it! This is going to be my project next week.
You know, I hadn’t thought about it making it super-easy to give them away! Great idea! Thanks for mentioning that.
We’re not ready to give them away yet, but it sure will be simple when the time comes!
I use under the bed storage baskets from Ikea. I have two. One for my sons clothes and one for my daughters and they are under our bed. I use the XL ziplock bags for my clothes and store them in the basement. We get a lot of hand me downs too. Thank goodness. It saves us a lot of money and I pass on what my kids have to friends and family.
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I’ll have to check out the bags from Ikea. Unfortunately, we don’t live near an Ikea, so I’ve never been to one! But I have a feeling it would be my favorite store if I were local to one! I’ll check those out online.
Thanks for sharing how you store your items – it’s always nice to see how others do things. 🙂
I LOVE the ziploc bags and we use a very similar system. Though for us it’s shared w/ my sister in law. Between us, we have a 7yo girl, 5yo boy, 4yo boy, 3yo girl, 1yo girl, and one more coming next month. It’s been great to bag things up, pass them along, and then receive the bag back when it’s the next kid’s turn.
Love the idea of marking where the “special” items are, including shoes etc. We’ll add that to the system!
You’ve already got a great system going! And those bags do make it so easy to pass back and forth, doesn’t it??
Congrats on the new baby to come. 🙂
This is just the information that I needed! My family has also been blessed with “love me downs” from friends and family. From your picture, it looks like the ziploc bag comes with its own handle?
“Love me downs” – I’ve never heard that phrase! Love it!
Yes, both the Hefty and Ziploc both come with built in handles. But I will warn you – if you overstuff the Ziploc brand and then pick it up by the handles, it won’t stay sealed well. And if you overstuff the Hefty brand, it completely ruins the zipper across the top. I guess the moral of the story is don’t overstuff. 🙂
What a great system! My kids are the oldest in the family so we pass on a lot of their clothes and I’m never very organized about it. I usually throw things in a big garbage bag and the heck with any size distinction. I’m feeling a little motivated to use your system. Thanks for the idea!
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Tina – I hope it works for you! But I can guarantee that the recipients of your hand me downs are thrilled to have the clothes any way you send them. 🙂
What a great idea. I have never heard of XL ziploc bags before. We live in the country so bugs are a big issue in our home. I have all my 0-12month clothes in one big tub and have to dig to find the separate sizes. It would be so much easier with bags. I will have to look into those. Do they sell them near the other ziploc bags and I just never noticed?
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In my experience, the bags have been hard to find in Wal-Mart. If they do carry them, it’s been over by the kitchen items where the food storage/Rubbermaid items are.
There are much easier to find at Target. They carry them where all of the other Ziploc bags are.
I hope this works for you! It’s a good system if you’ve got a little bit of storage room. 🙂
It can be a bit pricey, but i use the “space bags”, where you suck the air out with the vaccum cleaner. I have found them at Big Lots for about $4-5 apiece.
Great idea! They are a little pricey, but they hold up well!